Theory of the Forms


A couple weeks ago my strength coach Max asked if I had ever heard of Plato’s theory of the forms , before then sending me a workout of 50 Toes to Bar for time. I had a little experience with the theory from high school, and again during my freshman seminar at Dartmouth (the extent of my formal philosophy education). I asked what in the world Plato had to do with skiing or toes to bar, and Max said a conversation not for texting. A couple days later we got on the phone to debrief the Park City training block, and he explained his thinking.

The theory of the forms (in the most basic of basic terms) stipulates that every thing in reality is just an imperfect version of its form. A classic example is a table. A table has a certain “table-ness” about it, which is why we can identify three dimensional tables as tables. We can do this despite there being about a billion different actual tables. Everyone has an agreed upon form for a table, that then allows them to exist in reality. Or take a circle. Despite never actually seeing a perfect circle (such a thing cannot exist in reality), everyone has an idea of what constitutes a circle. These forms- that cannot exist in reality- are unchanging. But the renditions of the forms in reality are always changing.

Max had been looking at some technique video from the camp, and the idea of the forms jumped to his head. Take classic skiing, for example. There is something about classic skiing that allows everyone to agree it is classic skiing, despite every individual producing a slightly different rendition. From a coaching perspective, Max was thinking about chasing the classic form. Knowing that it cannot be attained, but still chasing this ideal.

I thought it was a cool way to think about technique, and then getting even more meta, a cool way to think about training in general. There does exist some training form, and I’d argue that everyone is just trying to chase that ideal. And because every individual is different, this chase looks a little different.

My chase has definitely been different from previous years. I am about to switch out my roller skis for snow skis as I leave for a three week trip to Norway on Sunday. I will be spending two weeks in Sjusjoen training, and then traveling to Beitostolen to compete in the opening FIS races for Norway. I’m heading to Norway for the same reason I headed to New Zealand- in an effort to imbue the essence of skiing I’m chasing its purest form.

I’ve been in Sjusjoen for a couple days now, and the skiing is amazing. They got a timely dumping of snow for their tourist trails, and just put the finishing touches on a 5K loop. I’ve adjusted to the time change beautifully, and am so excited for the next 2.5 weeks of Norwegian snow- check back in a couple weeks for an update, and then after that the Super Tour begins!

**For some reason my captions aren’t working- blame it on Norway! But the below is more or less a chronological depiction of the last two weeks in photos. Beginning with the end of Fall in Vermont, a short visit to New Haven to visit Henry, a stop on the Cape for a night with Mom, and then a couple snapshots of life in Norway so far!

Some of the finishing dry land touches included a brutally hard workout with Sophie that was about 3 minutes of bounding and then 150 meters all out on the ski erg.  I set a lactate record of 15.7!
Last rollerski of the season with Erika and Sophie!
I caught a little bit of a cold the last couple days in Stratton, which actually worked out well.  I got to go visit my brother for a couple days, and get fully rested before heading to Norway!
Henry took my mom and me out to his favorite breakfast spot, and while my main course were some tasty eggs and avocado, he insisted we all try the cinnamon roll pancake...and it was good.
I continued defeating the cold and resting with a night on Cape Cod with my mom!24.jpeg” alt=”fullsizeoutput_63f” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1826″ />...And a day later I arrived in Norway!  I've had a pretty steady diet of brown cheese and eggs, and it has been awesomefullsizeoutput_642
Happy campers on the original Birkie trail!The only thing we don't have at our little cabin is a wax bench.  Making due with a bucket of hot water to heat up the klister, and our iron that we diligently clean after every blister application (sorry Pat)